This rant is mostly directed at video game players, but it can also apply to general activities like sports and arts.
Yesterday, my friend @Jozdrumz had this to say:
don’t deny that there are people better than you at something. if they are, they are. if anything, you should look up to them and learn from them
“i wanna be as good as that guy!” is what you should do, think positive, not negative
i’m not saying you should worship them, but just try looking at it from another perspective and maybe you’ll learn to improve yourself
This reminded me of a particular attitude I see amongst certain players, especially Touhou players:
Whenever I play Touhou, at times I’ll beat a level and feel confident about my skills. But, when I go on Youtube and see people do Perfect Runs on Lunatic. I feel like I can’t even play Touhou.
Well I’m going to say something blunt about this sort of mindset:
People who look at people better than them at a game and get mad at them piss me the fuck off.
In fact, I’ve had this unfortunate experience once. I had just been gifted a copy of Mega Man 2 by a friend of mine, and I was doing pretty well in it, and was tweeting about my experience with it, when suddenly, an acquaintance (they were a friend, but things changed) sarcastically thanked me for pissing him off and making him jealous with my abilities. That particularly set off my temper, and I saw it as guilt-tripping me into feeling bad for progressing so quickly in the game.
If one day I ascended to superplayer status at something and saw someone rage or outright quit because they saw one of my replays (or me playing live, e.g. at cons), I’d be pretty fucking furious. Furious that my abilities are seen as an incentive to quit and beat oneself up rather than as inspiration.
I mean, I’m sorry that something I demonstrated or wrote about is making you feel down, but I will NOT be sorry that I pulled off that sort of performance in the first place; to do so would be to go against my principle of doing what makes me happy, and if playing games at such a high level makes me happy, then too fucking bad, pal. That’s on you.
If everyone who was a noob quit, all we’d have left are the top players, the ones who, most likely unintentionally, are making beginners quit. And that won’t be fun for the community at all.
If I see someone doing a game, particularly one I’m also pursuing, I might feel a little down from seeing someone better than me, but at the same time, I try to think to myself, “How does this person do it? Maybe one day I can ascend to their level.” This is how I got into things like beatmania IIDX and Tetris: The Grand Master in the first place: okay, so some of my initial thoughts was “this player is pretty damn fiendish,” but they also consisted of “this game looks cool” and “I want to play it!”
Another friend of mine, Aru, had this to say on his blog:
SUPERPLAYERS BETTER THAN I’LL EVER BE? LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU, I’M TOO BUSY LOOKING AT STs AND USING JIKOBEST AS MY PRIMARY METRIC FOR MY OWN IMPROVEMENT LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LAAAAAAAAAAA
…seriously, though. I personally don’t let superplay videos discourage me from playing a video game. Sometimes a superplay video can help with figuring out how to tackle a game; it’s like a visual strategy guide of sorts (that is, if you can comprehend what the superplayer is doing). Other than that, the most I do in terms of learning how to get better at the game is playing it over and over again, resorting to strategy guides especially in the case of Touhou to learn optimal scoring techniques and better my game.
On the other hand, if someone quits because they don’t find the activity enjoyable, then fair enough. If you must quit, quit because it’s unfulfilling and not fun, not because of competition. This especially applies to games that are primarily single-player and use score as a metric of ability, such as 2D shooters and music games; no competition-based excuses there.
But if you do enjoy the thing, then do yourself a favor: Stop villifying those above your level, stop putting yourself down so hard, and get up.
Because I want to you to get better too. :)